Joplin High School junior Aidan Koch, 16, had a perfect score of 36 on the ACT he took in October.

It was the culmination of hard work, support from her family and teachers, and personal faith in her own talent, she said.

Koch initially took the ACT in both seventh and eighth grades through a national talent search program. He took the test for the first time during his high school career as a freshman and scored a .31. That was just the beginning.

“I was like, ‘OK, I’m doing good,’ and that’s when I really started studying — and I’ve been preparing a lot for it,” she said.

Koch created binders and spreadsheets filled with practice tests and notes. He asked his parents to print practice tests for him and help organize the finished tests and notes. He logged at least 35 hours of just rough testing.

The following year, he faced the ACT again – twice – and earned a 35 each time. He knew the perfect 36 was at hand, he told her.

“I was right there” at the finish, he said. “I was like, ‘I can do this, I know I can.'”

When she took the test for the sixth time last month, she initially didn’t think she had done as well as previously. But then came the score: technically a 35.5, rounded to 36. That composite score is based on the candidate’s individual score, also on a scale up to 36, in each of the ACT’s four English subsections , math, reading and science.

“I think I have a lot of natural motivations,” said Koch, a self-described perfectionist. “I just want to do the best I can and put my best effort into everything I do. I’ve loved sitting down and taking a practice test. I’ve enjoyed challenging myself and seeing where I stand. … (The Score) it shows everyone that there is a lot of talent but also a lot of hard work and dedication (involved).”

So Koch is done taking the ACT? He hesitates before answering: Maybe. He’s satisfied with what he’s achieved, but he might take the test a seventh time to try and get a perfect 36 in each of the four subsections. Again, it’s just a maybe, he stressed.

“I’d like to get a 36 in all sections, but … I don’t think the level of accomplishment is that important,” he said. “I think I’m quite happy with what I have.”

Outside of academics, Koch is active in extracurricular activities. He is involved in cross country, track and field, performance choir, student council, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Math League, National Honor Society, Tri-M Music Honor Society, Modern Language Club, DECA, FBLA, and the Interact Club.

Upon graduating in 2024, Koch plans to attend a four-year undergraduate university to major in business management before pursuing an MBA with a possible emphasis on marketing.

He is the son of Jeff and Shonna Koch, of Joplin.

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